Last week I got an unexpected phone call from my hubby. "So... there are rumors floating around that a whole bunch of people were laid off today. I'm not really sure what's happening. I'll keep you posted." If you're familiar with the economic situation in Alberta right now, you're probably thinking that shouldn't have been a surprise. But it was.
Last February, I attended a company banquet with my hubby. The CEO spoke about the changing economic times but how this company was fortunate to be stable during this period. We were encouraged to be supportive of those who would be facing difficulties due to the economic downturn but assured that it wouldn't be our experience. Because of that, I felt like in the midst of stormy economic times, we were sitting in an anchored boat.
No matter who you are or where you live, I'd be willing to bet that at some point, you have experienced a blindside.
Blindside: to hit someone facing another direction suddenly and very hard; to surprise of shock someone in a very unpleasant way; to attack critically where a person is vulnerable or uninformed;
You were caught off guard by something (not-so-positive): health concerns, a diagnosis, job loss or the warning that one could be approaching, the realization of an unfortunate reality, an unexpected change, government changes, or unsettling news.
Blindsides comes in all shapes and sizes. No matter what yours is specifically, I'd be willing to be it presented the same options as mine.
The first option or fork in the road is the well worn path of worry. I know more than I care to about this path because I've been down it. In fact, I could give you a tour but it's too tough of a place to come back from. It's like hopping on a train of thought that takes you to the edge of a cliff, teetering on the edge of uncertainty and giving complete way to fear. On this path you feel the need to take matters into your own hands and generate a plan B, plan C, and so on... for every single possible "what-if" outcome. You want to find out everything there is to know and every scenario that could possibly result. And why not? It fuels the illusion that you retain some control. The enemy loves this one. It's an easy hook, line and sinker if you can get the mind hooked.
Through unfortunate experience, I have found this path to lead to paralyzing fear resulting in obsessing, over-analyzing, stressing, preparing for worst case scenarios, and collecting excessive worst case scenario information, all in the name of being "prepared."
Thankfully, there's another path. It is narrow. It leads to a much better place. I've been down this road before as well and I so desire that my heart knows the way even when my feet fail.
Alternatively, blindsides in my life have reminded me that I'm not in control, but Someone else is. They've caused me to fall to my knees, literally and figuratively and desperately seek God. On this path, He has shown up. He walked with me. He carried me when I couldn't. He provided my every need. He answered my questions, not always with my kind of answers but with His all-sufficient grace. These pushed me over the edge, but a different one. They pushed me over the edge of depending on my own resources, strength and wisdom and forced me to be held by His hands The result was joy in the midst of sorrow, peace in the midst of the unknown and faith in the storms of doubt.
Just throwing this out there, I took the first road through a recent season (destructive path of worry) after having traveled the second one (trusting Him and experiencing His faithfulness) in a previous season. Who does that?
Since I've been down both roads, and in that particular humbling order, I found myself asking, what's the deciding factor? When I see the fork, how do I get on the narrow path? Reflecting on this has lead me to one conclusion: where I set my mind.
When I fix my eyes on Jesus, when I rest in His promises, when I believe His Word, when I choose to take captive my thoughts and make them obedient to Christ and His truth, when I guard my heart, and when I remember He loves me and knows my needs, I find myself with Him. And He's always guiding me on the path that leads to life.
Those things are impossible to do when I'm not actually in the word. It's pretty hard to believe the Word, when you don't actually know what it says. I CANNOT safely navigate the blindsides of life if I'm not presently, actively in the Word, believing Him and applying it to my present challenges.
I got a timely email this morning from a new friend answering a question from a few weeks ago, "How has the peace of God protected you in practical ways?" Her response was this:
"I choose to believe God. The Words He has given me, He has allowed me to experience. When I am in doubt, fearful or lonely, I go and sit with Him. He is always there. He listens to me and answers me through His Word. A key of peace for me in believing is gratitude. I believe as I thank Him, I grow in trust and let go of my stuff. As I thanked Him for being my comfort in loss, I grew to know Him as Comforter. As I thanked Him for walking me through cancer, I met Him as Healer and peace came. The more I look to look to Him in gratefulness, the more I experience peace that passes all understanding. The greatest peace is the fact that I know He came, suffered and died for me. I believe it. I live because of it. I don't live in the why's because I know the Who. I intimately, personally know the Prince of Peace. He is all I need."
How's that for the real deal? She personally KNOWS the Prince of Peace and He is all she needs.
I've known and experienced Him in that capacity before, but let me tell you, a past experience is not a free pass through a present challenge.
On that note, today I choose to trust. Though I'm surprised by this, God is not. He has always been faithful and cannot stop being faithful now.
Today, I choose to be in the Word. He has met me there before, He met me there today and He will meet me there again. He always has what I need waiting for me. If I don't make it there, it's pretty hard to receive.
Today, I choose not to generate infinitely many plans for what may or may not happen. Or to spend hours weighing whether or not I think his job will be on the chopping block. God gives grace according to the need, not according to my what ifs. If and when He calls me to walk a different road, He will give me grace for my need at that point.
Today, I choose not to give way to fear. I spent too much of my precious and limited time here on earth there already and it's a hard place to come back from. It's also a place with no peace and no rest. Those things also happen to be expensive. Jesus paid a high price so I wouldn't have to be enslaved to them.
The dust hasn't settled yet. I still do not know what this week will bring. But in reality, I never did. I just thought I did. I am sitting in an anchored boat. It's a solid anchor. The kind that can weather any storm that may blow through at any time.